When the Germany based chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer purchased Monsanto back in 2018, they got a lot more than they bargained for, including a laundry list of legal problems related to past use of glyphosate and other toxic agricultural chemicals.
While Monsanto has flexed its muscle against overmatched family farmers for several decades, the tide is beginning to turn in the legal arena, as evidenced by the recent $10 billion settlement its new parent company reached with the thousands of people who claimed they’ve been seriously harmed by Roundup.
But recently, another decisive legal blow was struck against the agrochemical giants, as a farmer who has battled Monsanto in court for nearly fifteen years has won a final appeal in a Paris court.
Farmer Takes Down Monsanto After Decade-Plus Long Legal Battle
As noted in a report from Reuters, farmer Paul Francois has won a final appeal in his legal battle against Bayer’s Monsanto division after France’s highest court rejected Monsanto’s latest appeal in a ruling by a judge presiding over the matter.
The ruling opens the door for another court to decide what damages should be awarded to Francois, who alleged that Monsanto’s weedkiller Lasso caused neurological problems including memory loss, fainting, and headaches.
Francois suffered the debilitating side effects after accidentally inhaling the chemicals on his farm. The Lasso chemical herbicide product is banned in the country, although it is still used in the United States, one of 85 chemical cocktails currently used by U.S. farmers that are banned in other countries, as revealed by a June 2019 report from the Center for Biological Diversity.
The ruling was quietly handed down this past October, but has not been widely disseminated in the American media, perhaps because of the strong influence the agrochemical lobby has on U.S. politicians and media outlets. Monsanto had been trying to overturn a decision by an appeals court in 2019 that found the company’s product safety information had been inadequate in relation to the accident involving Francois, which happened way back in 2004.
In response, Bayer said that court-appointed medical experts found previously that the incident did not cause the illnesses cited by Francois.
But the anti-pesticide group Generations Futures, which has supported the French farmer in his court case, said it welcomed “this historic decision.”
Doctors have recognized Francois’s health problems as a “professional illness.”
Francois has previously sought damages of the American equivalent of $1.2 million in the case.
Legally, Monsanto has previously also been found guilty of not clearly indicating the specific dangers of using the potent, toxic weedkiller in vats, as Francois was doing.
“The technical knowledge of Paul François…could not mitigate the lack of information on the product about its noxious effects. An agricultural farmer is not a chemist,” one appeals court in Lyon, France ruled after Monsanto had accused the farmer of “negligence” in using its controversial weedkiller product, according to the website ConnexionFrance.com.
Francois Victory Over Monsanto Shows the Power of Perseverance
Despite opposition from Bayer, Francois’s determination could prove to be a template for defeating the power multinational corporation in court, and a lesson in perseverance.
Francois’s legal fight against Monsanto began way back in 2007, and he has refused to back down over the decade-plus long legal fight, winning multiple appeals cases against Monsanto and Bayer over the years.
The longtime farmer won a trial in 2012, an appeal in 2015, and a second trial at an appeals court in 2019.
It’s a story that’s become all too familiar to many in the organic farming community, who have been sued, harassed, and harmed by Monsanto’s toxic pesticides and GMOs for decades.
But now, Monsanto and Bayer have been put officially been put on watch, thanks to farmers like Percy Schmeiser, Francois and others, who have taken it upon themselves to exact justice on the massive multi-national corporation that has had its hand in more than its fair share of sordid incidents involving farmers, since its inception back in 1901.
Thanks for reading! For more information on how GMO crops are harming livestock that have been eating them over the years according to a longtime Iowa farmer by the name of Jerry Rosman, check out this article.